Forrest J Ackerman Dead

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Postby David Alexander » 12/05/08 08:23 PM

Sad news for those of us of a certain age. Forry was one of a kind, a terrific guy to visit and spend time with. Essentially, you just sat back and the stories rolled. I spent many happy hours in the Ackermansion.

Forry had a huge collection of science fiction magazines. One afternoon Max Abrams was visiting Forry and fooled him badly by pulling one of Forry's copies of the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction off his shelf and doing a book test with it. It was, of course, one of the books that Richard Himber had a bit of influence over.

Details here: http://www.latimes.com/news/obituaries/ ... 9199.story
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 12/05/08 08:27 PM

How many happy hours I spent as a kid reading Famous Monsters of Filmland ... bye Forry.
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Postby Jim Riser » 12/05/08 08:36 PM

Forry was interviewed and featured in one of my younger son's issues of his New Grave magazine. When our son moved out to Hollywood, meeting Forry Ackerman was one of his goals. Forry had endless stories and so much old movie momentos. He was an institution and a living part of times past. He was a kind and interesting man who will be missed by many.
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Postby Kevin Connolly » 12/05/08 09:30 PM

He was a great guy. I have the same feelings as Rich on Famous Monsters of Filmland.

Did he have an AOL account? I seem to remember getting an IM from him about Houdini about 10+ years ago.

Thanks for the memories.
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Postby David Alexander » 12/05/08 09:53 PM

At one of my visits to Forry's museum-home there were several other people there, one a collector of a certain SF magazine. The guy needed three issues to make his collection complete and was hoping to buy one from Forry. Knowing that much of the magazine's run had vanishing into the paper drives of World War II the young collector knew it wouldn't be cheap and had enough money, he thought, to buy one.

Of course, Forry had all three and told the guy something like $60 or $65. The guy was happy and said he thought that a fair price and picked up one magazine. Forry corrected the kid and said, "No,no, the price is $60 for all three." Forry knew a fellow collector when he saw one and did a kindness to the young man. He didn't make a big deal out of it and as I recall, sort of said the price was for all three over his shoulder as he was walking away. The kid was stunned.

Another time Forry motioned me towards a small wooden wagon with an articulated machined metal neck and head, barely covered with a rotting cloth cover. "The brontosaurus from the original King Kong. It was discovered in a pile of trash in an underground vault that had been covered up by the floor of the original Star Trek sets."

How Forry got the item, I'll never know. A moment later he was showing me a story written and sent to him by a 14-year-old named Stephen King.

I was up visiting one afternoon when Harlan Ellison sent over a three or four-page fax, a sort of "now I've got you, you son-of-a-bitch" rant. Seems Ellison had collaborated with A.E. Van Vogt years before on a short story and there was to be a division of money each time the story was sold.

It had appeared in a French magazine and since Forry had been Van's literary agent for a time, Ellison was venting his spleen on Forry, screaming about his money since Van was slipping into Alzheimers and screaming at him wouldn't have accomplished anything.

Forry handed the fax to me to read as I knew Ellison slightly. I asked what it was all about and Forry explained the division of money and how the story sold to the small magazine for something like $60 and of that Ellison was due maybe $12. $12!! Harlan had burned up more than $12 of his time to write the rant, but it gave both of us a good laugh so his time wasnt wasted.

Then there was the time Forry spent several minutes describing L. Ron Hubbard performing stage hypnosis at a Hollywood party.

Knowing Forry and spending time with him was a great privilege and honor.
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Postby Steve Bryant » 12/05/08 11:50 PM

I too was a huge fan of FMoF. Elizabeth Gilbert did a great article on him a few years ago in GQ. As I recall, she told him upon arriving at the Mansion in California that she needed to use the restroom. "You should have thought of that," Forrey said, "before you left New York."
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Postby Doc Dixon » 12/06/08 01:10 AM

I feel like another part of my childhood just went away. I LOVED that magazine when I was a kid. I loved this line from the obit:

"He was always just a big kid," said Fangoria's Timpone. "I really cherished all the times I've been with him."

What a great way to be remembered. To still be a "big kid" at the age of 92 seems to be a sign of well-lived life. I never met him, but he seems he was just like I pictured him when I read the magazine decades ago.

David, thanks for sharing the stories. I was a huge King Kong/Willis O'Brien fan as a kid. I would have probably had stroke if I saw that brontosaurus!
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Postby David Alexander » 12/06/08 02:29 AM

Doc Dixon wrote:I feel like another part of my childhood just went away. I LOVED that magazine when I was a kid. I loved this line from the obit:

"He was always just a big kid," said Fangoria's Timpone. "I really cherished all the times I've been with him."

What a great way to be remembered. To still be a "big kid" at the age of 92 seems to be a sign of well-lived life. I never met him, but he seems he was just like I pictured him when I read the magazine decades ago.

David, thanks for sharing the stories. I was a huge King Kong/Willis O'Brien fan as a kid. I would have probably had stroke if I saw that brontosaurus!


You're welcome, Doc. What I found interesting was the contrast between the crudity of the wood wagon and the cloth covering and the precision of the machined parts that allowed for the prop to be moved in increments for the stop motion photography.

One day just after Forry had shown the life masks of the famous old horror stars he opened a drawer and showed me a small bit of hair, explaining how he been allowed to see Lon Chaneys make up case and how, when no one was looking, hed quickly grabbed a few hairs from the brush.

The normal tour did not include Forrys living quarters on the upmost floor. If he liked you, an invitation was possible. There he kept a nice collection of photographs of him with a bevy of beautiful women whod visited the Ackermansion over the years. Some famous and some not, but nearly all gorgeous. Forry like beautiful women.

His favorite film was Fritz Lang's "Metropolis" which he'd seen a 100 times or more. Forry had his own full-sized model of the gynoid or fem-bot that was beautifully made and highly accurate. I thought of Forry when I read of the discovery of the "lost" footage down in South America, thirty minutes of Metropolis that would have restored the film to its proper length and filled in a lot of the narrative. If he managed to see it I know he would have died happy.
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Postby Kevin Connolly » 12/06/08 02:34 AM

Speaking of beautiful girls, I see that Betty Page when into LA hospital with a heart attack too today.
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Postby David Vamer » 12/06/08 07:21 AM

Rest peacefully, Forry.
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Postby Tom Frame » 12/06/08 01:03 PM

I was also a rabid fan of Famous Monsters of Filmland. At one point, I carefully "carpeted" my basement floor with all of my issues. I then stood atop a ladder and took a photo of my prized collection. I wish I had that photo now.

Thanks for the chills and thrills Forry. Rest in peace.
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Postby Jerry Harrell » 12/06/08 03:25 PM

I was one of the lucky folks allowed to take a camera inside the Ackermansion. You can see our tour from 1989 here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aflALPxejCg

You can see Mr. Ackerman at a mini-con here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vk6rtUpVKV0

Goodbye 4E, you will be missed.
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Postby Donal Chayce » 12/06/08 04:51 PM

I, too, was a big fan of "Famous Monsters" when I was a kid. I presently live in the same LA neighborhood (Los Feliz) as the Ackermansion but, I'm sad to say, I never visited it.

Thanks to everyone for sharing your stories and clips.
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Postby AJM » 12/06/08 07:14 PM

Short tribute on the BBC news page: -

BBC News
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Postby Steve Fernandes » 12/15/08 09:24 PM

One-of-a-kind person. How I loved those issues of FMoF! When I heard of his death, I went to the box and found a dozen or so. (Yikes. Collecting non-magic magazines in early adolescence. Scarier than the magazines.)

I think it's interesting how many certain-age folks who were Ackermaniacs in their youth are now adults enthused about magic. Does anyone else find that connection curious?

Thanks for moving along the imagination of a kid, Forry ... and, I think, starting an excitement about collecting.
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Postby Kevin Connolly » 12/19/08 09:20 PM

Here You get the best of both worlds. Famous Monsters of Filmland and Houdini.

http://cgi.ebay.com/FAMOUS-MONSTERS-of- ... 240%3A1318
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 12/20/08 06:07 PM

I had no idea Famous Monsters continued running for that long!
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Postby David Alexander » 12/20/08 06:11 PM

Later issues were produced by Ray Ferry who later had a falling out with Forry. I had dinner with both of them one evening before the big blow up and before the lawyers were involved.
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Postby Bob Farmer » 12/20/08 09:48 PM

FMOF was also a part of my childhood, except it was hard to find in Canada. Luckily, I lived on the border and every Sunday my cousins and I would take a ferry over to Ogdensburg, NY to go to the movies -- and I could get the latest copy of FMOF there (and then I smuggled it back into Canada in my jeans).

Flash forward several years and I'm in law school. It's late at night and I'm in the library bored stiff (I was bored stiff for the entire 3 years). I take a break and wander over to the nearby all-night convenience store and there it is -- FAMOUS MONSTERS OF FILMLAND.

Back in the library, I am now comfortably ensconced in a study cubicle reading my mag and reliving my childhood when a friend of mine -- another law student, Bruce, and the then bass player in my band at the time ("Funktus") -- comes over and thinks it's damn hilarious I'm reading this (to him) "stupid" magazine in the law library amongst these mighty tomes of intellectual giants.

As I was straightening out Bruce's perceptions with a drop kick to the forehead, I noticed something, something damned important: a picture of an esteemed (i.e., really, really quite dead) jurist that hung over my desk was in black and white --

--and it matched in tone (and size) exactly the black and white pictures in FMOF. I took the picture down, ripped out a picture of Christopher Lee as Dracula from the mag, pried off the back cover of the picture and overlaid Chris/Dracula on the dead jurist's picture. It looked great. I put it back up on the wall and Bruce and I then giggled uncontrollably for at least 10 minutes (this may have also been the result of some other influences I won't go into here).

Collecting our thoughts we returned to the convenience store and bought every copy of FMOF they had. We then spent until the wee hours of the morning going through the entire law school and replacing as many pictures as we could with the Creature From the Black Lagoon, Lon Chaney, Frankenstein, the Wolfman, etc., etc.

Next morning we both arrived early to enjoy the mayhem that we were sure would ensue.

Nothing happened. No one noticed. These old judge and lawyer pictures had been up on the walls so long, nobody ever really looked at them -- and because the pix from the mag were tonally identical, they were invisible.

Eventually, Bruce and I had to resort to more direct tactics, such as elbowing the guy next to us in class and leading his eyes to that picture back there. Once again, choked laughter ensued. It became a bit viral and eventually there were a lot of guys walking around laughing at apparently nothing (friends of ours) and a lot of guys (the law geeks) who couldn't figure out what these other guys were laughing at.

Of course, it eventually got all out, but it took two weeks for all the pictures to be found and fixed. Of course, all knew who was responsible, but no one could prove it.

Thank you Forry for making at least some of the time I spent suffocating under the law, entertaining and subversive.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 12/20/08 11:10 PM

I still have all my issues of Famous Monsters in a box in the attic. Hard to believe.
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Postby houdini's ghost » 12/23/08 04:43 PM

It was February, 1958. I was attending Bancroft junior high school in Hollywood, California. A local TV station, KTLA, had a late-night horror show which featured the Universal monsters. It was hosted by an old character actress, Ottola Nesmith, and one night, she was seen reading a magazine. It was the first issue of Famous Monsters of Filmland. I had to have that magazine. I had several friends who shared my enthusiasm for horror movies and literature, sci-fi, etc. and one of them told me he could pick one up for me at the newsstand near his house. He delivered it to me, as we stood at the far end of the yard, in a brown paper bag -- a crumpled brown paper bag. From under his jacket to under mine.
It was full of wonders. And puns. And from the very first reading of that first issue, I felt I knew Forry Ackerman. I bought every issue for years. In the 70s, I learned that copies of FM number one were going for thousands of dollars. I still had mine. I found it and discovered I had clipped some photos out to paste on my wall.
By that time, I had known Forry Ackerman for quite a while. The first time I remember speaking to him was in 1966. My uncle, the actor Wallace Ford, had died. I don't remember how I came by Forry's phone number but it wasn't hard. I called him and told him Wally had died, which he knew, and that I hoped FM could say a little something about him. Well, Forry ran a lovely article called "Farewell to Ford" which talked about my uncle's appearances in "Freaks," "the Mummy's Tomb," and "the Ape Man," among others. The article mentioned the phone call from the nephew.
In 1974, Forry called me to say that some guys from UCLA were doing a Sunday morning show called "the Collectors" and that he had suggested me as a guest. He gave me a number to call and I made an appointment for the producers to come by and look at my Houdini collection. I had packed it away in 1967 before I went to Vietnam. It was a Sunday morning when they came by and I had unpacked everything and spread it around a couple of rooms. I was amazed at the kind of collecting I had done. After I'd returned from Vietnam, I was disconnected from my pre-Vietnam life. That morning, I got reacquainted with Houdini.
So, these guys showed up and we looked at my Houdini material and they enthusiastically decided to do the show. One of them asked me, "when was Houdini born?" I told him March 24, 1874. Then it hit me and I added, "100 years ago today."
I knew Forry over the years and he helped me several times. He owned the only copy that I knew about of a very early issue of Weird Tales magazine which featured a short story by Houdini. Forry let me shoot slides of each page which I later projected onto the wall near my desk and copied out for my book "Houdini's Strange Tales."
My son, Kieran, is 17 now and I'm so glad that he got to visit the Ackermansion.
He lived so long and survived so much that I thought Forry might never die. Now, I realize that he was and is a spirit and he never will die.
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